Sunday, March 22, 2015

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease not commonly discussed

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease affects 30 percent of the population in developed countries and is a disease with few symptoms but significant effects on your body.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease has been seen in adults for decades and was first observed in the 1980s in children. Since nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is so common and increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, high triglycerides, high LDL-cholesterol, high blood pressure and fat build up in the liver and around your organs, it is important to minimize its presence.

In the beginning, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is reversible, which is why it is especially important to monitor in children. The disease has been seen in children as young as two, but most commonly, begins in early adolescent boys.

In USA (specifically), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is found in "11.8 percent of Hispanic children, 10.2 percent of Asian children, 8.6 percent of white children and only 1.5 percent of black children," according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Usually, the disease is discovered in a child that is also obese, has insulin resistance or diabetes.

Some possible symptoms are abdominal pain, fatigue, irritability, headaches and difficulty concentrating.

The best way to tackle reversing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in all populations is maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise. There is also research showing that reducing sugar intake, specifically fructose, can decrease fat in the liver in as little as 10 days in children.

One study was done on 40 children who had their sugary foods replaced with healthy complex carbohydrates while their calorie intake remained the same. There was a 20 percent decrease of fat in the liver in only 10 days by avoiding simple sugars (fructose and sucrose, note sucrose = fructose + glucose).

Common dietary sources high in fructose are fruit, fruit juices and sugary drinks such as fruit punch and soda.

Read your ingredients label and look for the word fructose. In most drinks, you will see high fructose corn syrup. Everyone should avoid fructose added into foods on a regular basis. Added fructose should be strictly avoided in any adult or child with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Though fruit contains fructose do not worry, eat an appropriate amount, such as one small piece or one half cup serving per meal. Fruit offers more than fructose; an abundance of vitamins, minerals and fiber and is not nearly as concentrated as in sugary drinks. Also remember that fructose intake does not cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, but avoiding it has a significant role in reversing a fatty liver.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is almost always in those who are overweight and obese, since soda and juice are high-calorie, high-fructose drinks they can easily cause weight gain, so avoiding these is most important.

Think about yourself and those close to you, consider the symptoms and risk factors for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease because it is very common in our population but not commonly discussed.


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